SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The future is uncertain for the proposal to give students living in their cars a safe place to park overnight after the Senate Appropriations Committee placed the bill on suspense Monday.
Assembly Bill 302 calls for campus administrators to “grant overnight access to those facilities (parking facilities) to any homeless student who is enrolled in coursework, has paid enrollment fees, and is in good standing with the community college, and would require the governing board of the community college district to determine a plan of action to implement this requirement.”
The students would need to sign a liability and waiver form and would have access to bathroom facilities.
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office released a report, done in conjunction with The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, showing nearly 400,000 of the state’s 2.1 million community college students have been homeless in the past year. Approximately 60 percent of the nearly 40,000 survey respondents said they were “housing insecure” in the past year; another 50 percent experienced food insecurity in the past month.
As part of AB 302, students who use the overnight parking lots would be connected to housing, food, and financial assistance resources offered by the state, county, and community college district.
The Community College League of California, a non-profit made up of the 72 public community college districts, opposes the legislation.
“We are concerned that this approach fails to solve the deeper financial aid problem our students face and have long advocated for the state to fix. Unfortunately, AB 302 perpetuates the longstanding structural inequities in California’s higher education system. As the fifth-largest economy in the world, California can do better than to simply offer our homeless community college students a parking lot,” a Community College League of California representative Laura Murrell said.
In a letter to lawmakers, the Los Rios Community College District said it would only support AB302 if it was amended to remove the parking access requirement, citing concerns about high costs for security, restrooms, and liability. They said a mandate is not needed because the system is looking at other ways to solve the problem.
The bill would “not apply to a community college campus providing all of the following services to its homeless students commencing on or before April 1, 2020:
- Emergency grants that are necessary to secure, or prevent the imminent loss of housing.
- Hotel vouchers through a public agency or community organization.
- Rapid rehousing referral services.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for things mandated by the state.
If AB302 does pass and is signed by the Governor it would go into effect July 1, 2020.
The current law already requires California Community Colleges to provide showers for homeless students in good standing.